A Founding Father’s Disaster Planning Advice

“Time is money” is an old adage usually attributed to Ben Franklin. There’s nothing like system and network downtime to help you see the truth in that phrase.

Given the importance of IT to business operations, even a short interruption in service can be financially crippling.According to a recent global survey conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group, downtime costs enterprises an average of $21.8 million each year. The dollar figures aren’t so high for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) — although IDC has pegged it at a still-staggering $20,000 per hour.

Expenses mount quickly when you calculate the time and effort required to diagnose the problem, lost productivity as employees sit idle, and the cost of missed transactions. The overall effect of downtime may be significantly more damaging when you consider the impact on intangibles such as customer service.

SMBs are often more vulnerable to downtime than enterprises. Large organizations typically have a great deal of redundancy built into their infrastructure to ensure that applications and processes can keep running in the event of a system failure. SMBs typically lack such built-in redundancy. In fact, the entire operation may be running off one server. A single hardware crash can be catastrophic.

Furthermore, SMBs don’t typically have a lot of extra cash to cover the unexpected costs of an outage. Unforeseen overtime, repair and recovery costs can destroy a budget. Worse yet, a lost customer or two could put the entire business in peril.

Disaster recovery (DR) planning helps minimize the impact of any possible system failures.However, industry surveys consistently show that most SMBs are not taking the proper precautions. Very few have DR plans, and those that do rarely test them.

If you don’t already have a DR plan, now is the time to develop one.That involves identifying key systems, applications and data, and implementing measures to safeguard them. Offsite data backup is a must to ensure that the business can survive a natural disaster, hardware failure or cyberattack. Organizations that rely heavily on the Internet to connect with customers, process orders or access cloud services should also consider redundant connectivity as a hedge against a service provider outage.

Because electrical outages are commonplace, backup power is essential. Each piece of critical equipment should be supported an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that will keep the equipment up and running long enough for you to shut it down properly.

While the focus should be on your servers and network, you should also consider the costs of PC downtime. Studies show that employees spend an average of 30 minutes per week troubleshooting PC issues or helping their coworkers. If business-critical data is stored on an individual’s PC, a disk crash could be devastating.

Finally, remember that DR plans require regular review and testing. Don’t wait until an actual emergency to discover there’s a flaw in your plan.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, give us a call. SSD can help you identify key resources and potential vulnerabilities. We will support your servers, network and PCs, and implement a simple, automated solution that provides data backup and offsite replication along with fast and easy recovery.

The important thing is to take the proper steps to mitigate the effects of downtime so you can get back to business quickly. As Mr. Franklin was also fond of pointing out, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.